Vulnerable man suffered 35 wounds and drowned after brutal attack, court hears

A “vulnerable” man gasped for air in the water after he was brutally attacked and pushed into a canal, a jury has heard.

The body of Scott Anderton, 33, from Leigh, Greater Manchester, was found floating in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in his home town on the morning of March 25.

A post-mortem examination showed he suffered 35 separate sharp force injuries including chop and stab wounds that covered his body from the top of his head down to his shins.

The nature of some of the wounds indicated Mr Anderton (pictured) tried to protect himself by raising his hands, arms and legs, and – in the opinion of a pathologist – were “equally consistent with blows being delivered to prevent him getting out of the canal”.

The cause of death given was multiple sharp force injuries with blunt force trauma to the head and terminal drowning.

Liam Bailey, 18, of Leigh, has pleaded guilty to the murder of Mr Anderton but denies robbing him.

Two youths, aged 16 and 17, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are on trial alongside him at Manchester Crown Court and deny the murder and robbery of Mr Anderton.

Michael Brady QC, prosecuting, said Mr Anderton had the “tragic misfortune” to run into the defendants shortly after he was seen on CCTV walking through Leigh town centre at about 4am with a plastic carrier bag, wearing a bobble hat and only one shoe.

CCTV footage went on to show the murder victim and the defendants at the entrance to the canal on King Street, says the prosecution, and that at 4.30am ripples on the surface of the water indicated when Mr Anderton entered the canal after the attack.

After his body was found by a passer-by at about 7am the defendants returned to the scene and photographed the “considerable” police presence, said the prosecutor.

Mr Brady told the jury the defendants were untroubled by what they had done, with later analysis of Bailey’s mobile phone containing a video of police vehicles, with a male voice – the Crown alleges belonging to the 17-year-old – saying “hot in Leigh town”.

All three defendants were arrested the next day and the 17-year-old went on to tell the police that Bailey attacked Mr Anderton with a machete and that he was then pushed into the canal by Bailey and the other teenager.

Mr Brady said: “He said he went to see if Mr Anderton was ‘all right’. He told the police that he saw Mr Anderton swim to the other side of the canal gasping for air and thought he heard Mr Anderton say ‘I’m dying, I’m dying’.”

The prosecutor told jurors it was not necessary to show which of the defendants delivered the fatal blow or blows so long as they were satisfied they were each aware that Mr Anderton was to be robbed and killed and that each played their part in the robbery and murder.

Mr Brady went on: “The Crown says all three did. Their intent was murderous. Their execution brutal. Their cohesion as a group clear.”

It is alleged all three were also variously responsible for attempted robberies in Leigh of two young men in the hours before Mr Anderton was murdered.

Bailey, of Diamond Street, has also admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm on a 40-year-old man who suffered life-changing injuries from a late-night attack near Leigh town centre on September 1 last year.

Mr Brady said the victim, similarly to Mr Anderton, was targeted because he was “vulnerable and alone”. He spent six months in hospital after he suffered severe brain and head injuries caused by multiple blows in an attack on an “isolated strip of land” at Hulme Gardens, the court heard.

The prosecutor said: “Such were the severity of his injuries that had he not been found in such a timely fashion and provided with emergency care, he probably wouldn’t have survived.”

Bailey and the 17-year-old defendant were arrested last September over that incident. The youth denied any involvement and Bailey answered “no comment” in interviews.

On Wednesday, Mark Ford QC, representing Bailey, told the jury his client assaulted Mr Anderton and caused serious injuries that led to his death but he denied all the allegations of robbery.

Mr Ford said Bailey had taken Xanax and used cannabis before the chance meeting with Mr Anderton and his judgment was “impaired as a consequence”.

Jurors were told by barristers representing the two youths that they played no part in the attack on Mr Anderton.

Bailey denies robbery and attempted robbery, the 17-year-old denies murder, robbery, attempted robbery and inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent on September 1 last year, while the 16-year-old denies murder, robbery and attempted robbery.

The trial, estimated to last up to four weeks, continues on Thursday.

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